Physician Assistant M.S.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Goetz, Cindy

Second Reader

Kimberly Adelsman;


Deaf patients are a population at risk of facing complications when seeking healthcare. Deaf individuals experiencing health emergencies face the possibility of not having an interpreter present for their medical evaluations leading to unwanted outcomes. In 2010, there were an estimated 36 million people in the United States who were hearing impaired (Shuler et al., 2014). Due to the prevalence of hearing loss, there is a need for a way to communicate with those who are deaf, especially in emergency medical situations and this unprecedented time of COVID-19. The purpose of this project was to provide a resource for medical providers who find themselves caring for deaf patients in emergency situations when an interpreter is not immediately available. Our group created an online resource with common medical and general American Sign Language (ASL) signs, the fingerspelling alphabet, Deaf communication tips, and resources for contacting interpreters in the state of Minnesota. This resource was then distributed to Tri-County Health Care based out of Wadena, MN as well as the current students at Bethel University’s Physician Assistant Program for their use. Our hope is that this resource will not only help to bridge the communication gap for deaf patients and their healthcare providers, but to help establish better patient-provider rapport and decrease negative health outcomes.

Degree Name

Masters of Science in Physician Assistant

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis